A fantastic radio interview with Nicole Disney

To listen to the interview and to hear Nicole’s lovely voice, as well as to hear about her debut novel, follow this link.

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In Thanks by ‘Nathan Burgoine

There’s a running joke among my author friends about how I never have a title. I’ve written novels before coming up with a title (I’ve even written a novel without naming a main character until the end). Titles (and names) are two things that always evade me the longest. My editors often end up titling things I’ve written, especially when they see what I eventually come up with. The gentle “Perhaps this title needs some work…” comments in edits from my first days as an author have given way to me leaving preemptive notes in submitted drafts saying “I’m aware this is a terrible title. Any ideas?”

Even putting a title on a blog post usually leaves me staring at the cursor, watching it blink.

This time? No different.

The ninth annual Bold Strokes Books bookfair in Nottingham was an absolute delight. Being surrounded by queer authors and queer readers is an all-too-rare experience, and the sheer joy of being able to just discuss without all the second-guessing, worrying, and self-censoring that happens in non-queer spaces is hard to put into words.

Festivals like these are revitalizing, even for introverts like me. Don’t get me wrong, I came home, threw a blanket over my head and cuddled my dog for a week while I waited for the jet lag to wear off, but my creative battery was fully recharged, and all those conversations and readings (and oh wow, the readings added so many books to the to-be-read pile I cannot tell you) are still bouncing around in my head.

I was lucky enough to moderate the “Author-Reader Connection” panel, and seeing the audience interact with the authors was magic. The sheer amount of laughter was of course memorable, but also there were questions from the audience that reminded me just how much queer stories matter.

As an author, it’s not like we forget that, exactly. But when readers make it so clear how much they love queer stories there’s a palpable moment reinforcing all that time spent staring at the blinking cursor. Without readers, none of this magic could happen.

Hearing readers talk about that magic? Asking questions, making suggestions, maybe even laughing a little at some general author antics?

It’s fuel. It’s inspiration for the next story.

So, to everyone who came to the festival; my fellow authors and all the people who keep the wheels turning at Bold Strokes Books, and most especially the readers, I offer thanks.

And now I’ll get back to that untitled manuscript I’m working on.

New Friends, New Family by Nicole Disney

My first Bold Strokes Books UK Festival also happened to be my first trip to the UK. I was blown away by the kindness we encountered as my wife and I bumbled our way through the airports, train stations, and eventually made our way to Nottingham. It was a truly magical trip that no amount of missed trains, jet lag, or fear of public speaking could dampen. Nottingham is so beautiful and interesting. It’s the type of place where a wrong turn simply becomes a charming side adventure.

I was struck and touched by the warmth of the entire weekend. It was a special feeling to combine the excitement of getting readers, authors, and general word lovers together with the safety and comfort I find is unique to LGBTQ gatherings. I can’t recall a time I so instantly felt like family with everyone around me. I made so many memories and friendships I will cherish.

It was a beautiful experience to meet some of the authors I’ve read and loved for so long in person. Reading someone’s novel is like getting to sneak a look into that person’s heart, and it can sometimes feel a bit out of order to connect with someone on that level, and then meet them in person. Being on the other side of that as an author is beyond humbling.

I can’t wait to participate in many more BSB events and meet many more amazing people.

Safe to Simply Be by Robyn Nyx

I love the annual Bold Strokes Books UK festival. I’ve attended for the past five years (four of them as a BSB author) and amazingly, each year it gets better and better. This year was no exception to that rule, and when nigh on thirty Bold Strokes authors converged on Nottingham last weekend, it was a real treat. What I love about this festival is the wonderfully informal atmosphere, the accessibility of the authors, and the enthusiasm of the readers who attend. Last weekend saw a whole host of new readers coming to the festival for the first time, and I hope that now they’ve been and seen what it’s about and how much fun it is, they’ll keep on coming—as if the draw of our books were not enough, then to be in with a chance of winning bizarre toys surely appeals! Next year is the tenth anniversary of the event, so Victoria (aka Brey Willows) and I will be working super hard to make sure it matches the buzz of the weekend just passed. Watch this space for news of how to book your early-bird tickets and for the post-event questionnaire, which we’d really appreciate if you took five minutes to complete.

It was lovely to catch up with people, meet new readers, and spend the whole weekend concentrating on the fantastical world of LGBTQ fiction that we all create. One thing that struck me was the sheer diversity of the people who joined us. We attracted everyone from college and university students to pensioners and a whole range in between. People who would never usually orbit the same space were brought together by the power of words, and they were hosted in a safe queer space. A space where there was no fear of judgement; where a guy was comfortable in a dress, a transgender woman could be herself without the pejorative stare of the narrow-minded ass, and a gender fluid reader could simply be.

Such an environment is not to be taken for granted, and it was made possible by our terrifically generous publisher, Radclyffe. (And I did love Valden Bush’s response as she was introduced! Her “Oh my!” was accompanied with quite the swoon.) Radclyffe’s commitment to developing and crafting quality LGBTQ fiction, to supporting her ever-growing stable of authors, and to producing books to keep LGBTQ fiction alive is second to none. And, my gentle ribbing and tongue-in-cheek irreverence aside, there are not the appropriate words to express my gratitude for her continuing contribution to our community. Its impact cannot be underestimated, and I think it was evident in each and every one of the readers and authors who were present for the event.

As it gets bigger, it’s harder to make sure you have the time to talk to everyone who’s taken the time to attend, so for all of those wonderful readers I could only say “Hi” to in passing, thank you so much for coming and making it such a great event. Brey and I hope to see you at GCLS, EllCon, and Manchester Pride! In the meantime, keep reading, and all of us will keep on writing for you.

Post UK Take-Aways by Renee Roman

The amount of history I’ve learned about the UK was eye-opening, though it will take me a long scan of the many pictures to remember bits of it. The anecdotal stuff is funny, and while I don’t want to bore you, I’m compelled to share some (in no particular order).

They have way too many coins. What they call roads, we call alleys. It took me three days to stop cringing at oncoming traffic. The top sheet is missing from bedding. (I wonder who stole them?) What’s up with the down comforters? Without the option of a sheet, it’s either freeze or sweat. Wash cloths are hard to come by. Food, even in restaurants, is inexpensive compared to the US. No less than five people told us the last three days of sunshine and warm temps was most likely their entire summer. The country is very green. Daffodils and sheep should be national symbols. There’s a lot of castles. The cobblestone walks and roads will trip you when you are least prepared to take a tumble, although I guess you can’t really be prepared. I wasn’t. Butter on a sandwich is common. Not all fish and chips are equal. Stepping through doors that might appear at first questionable, lead to wonderful discoveries. Bangers and mash are good. Mushy peas not so much. Beans at breakfast is no way to start the day.

I’m getting too old to schlepp around a thirty-pound backpack. I pack too much. I was picked for a random second security screen (I’m grateful for the vigilance.) When I returned from said screening, I proudly announced “I passed.” My tolerance had improved. My stamina may be below the curve. I sleep worse when away than I do at home.Kindness abounds, and the people are polite and welcoming. I’ve found a home away from home, not only in the UK, but in my chosen home in Bold Strokes Books. In turn, I’m eternally grateful Rad chose to welcome me.

Thank you, Rad, for the vision and making it real for so many us. And to our faithful readers—I’m more than grateful you took a chance on me, and a joy to meet you. Every word of encouragement keeps us writing. Without you, we would not exist.Until the next time…Renee

Not So Alone After All by Brey Willows

Gun Brooke, Amy Dunne, Jeffrey Ricker, Brey Willows

I’m an introvert. A full on, writing in a cave kind of girl. Socialising is a lot like over-cooking eggs in a microwave; not pretty, sometimes explosive, and often messy.

But this weekend reminded me of something important; we’re not alone. Us writers who need space and time to create, who feel like we know our fictional families better than any actual humans, are part of something bigger.

Bold Strokes has worked hard to create a community of authors who support one another, who cheer each other on, and who help each other grow. And when we get together, we have the chance to see that we’re not loners alone in the world; we’re loners that are part of a fantastic group of loners (and the occasional extrovert) and that’s beyond awesome.

Truthfully, I was overwhelmed by people’s absolute kindness. People who took the time to tell me they liked my books, who said they were looking forward to the next one, who laughed at my feeble attempts at humour. It’s an amazing feeling to have someone compliment your words. And I got to meet some of the reviewers who have taken the time to read and review my books, too, which is always a pleasure.

So I’ll keep attending events like this one. It’s an invaluable way to meet other authors, other readers, and to know that this socially awkward loner isn’t actually…alone.

Brey Willows will be at ELLCon and at Manchester Pride in August.

Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows

And…Breathe.

Wow.

Even if I do play with words all day every day, I’m still a little at a loss as to which to choose to describe the 9th Annual Bold Strokes Book Festival.

More than a hundred people came on Saturday, and nearly that number joined us on Sunday. Readers, writers, young, old(er), all came together to talk writing, books, publishing, and generally just to have a good time.

Hosting 28 authors, some of whom came from the States, Australia, Belgium, Sweden, Canada, and, of corse, the UK, was an honour and a privilege. The exchange of ideas, the support, the laughter, and yes, even the commiserations, were a joy to watch unfold.

And being able to talk to readers who also journeyed from places like the Isle of Anglesey, Wales, and Germany just for a weekend of great queer fiction was truly humbling. To every reader who attended (and stuck around, even when the sun was out) thank you so much. We’re lucky to have you around.

And so, we’re done for another year. Of course, you can still catch us at Manchester Pride and at ELLCon in August. Sign up to the newsletter on our homepage to keep up with details of where we’ll be. And put us in your diary for next year: June 1st-2nd, our ten year anniversary.

Thank you again to all the authors and readers who made this an outstanding weekend. See you soon.